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Do you ever get to Friday night and realize you have not done anything to plan your weekend? I am definitely guilty of this. I put a lot of energy into my job and by the time I get to the weekend I don’t have mental (or sometimes physical) energy left to plan an exciting weekend. I used to have major FOMO about needing to be out and active, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve let that go. Now I’m often on the other end where I often have nothing scheduled or planned during my weekends.
About a year ago I had an active but fulfilling weekend…the kind of weekend
That got me thinking about what makes a perfect weekend. What system could I create to easily plan my weekend? How could I achieve the balance of being active and productive while leaving time for rest and relaxation?
I like structure and format, so I decided to make a checklist of the building blocks of my perfect weekend. I wrote out a list of the activities that I found most fulfilling or helpful in supporting my overall life goals. They were:
- Spending quality time with my partner
- Connecting with family/friends
- Maintenance cleaning
- Organizing project
- Exploring a new local place or visiting a favorite local place
- Reading in the sunshine (or on couch if too cold)
- Implementing or researching a personal finance activity
- Wedding planning activity
- Being active with a high energy activity
- Relaxing/pleasure activity (for example, playing piano, infrared sauna, short walk)
- Organizing my life with one KO/XO session of small tasks that have been building up
The idea then was to look at this list and use it as a prompt to plan my weekend. I set a minimum amount I would like to spend on each activity to help keep in mind while planning.
The process to plan your weekend:
Once you have a list of priorities like mine above, here is the step by step process to plan your weekend:
- I review this checklist on Thursday or Friday and write out some ideas of activities for each category. I have my list saved in a notes file on my phone. Each week, I copy the list into a new note and fill in specific ideas for each item.
- If my idea is something that requires scheduling (for example attending an event or a class or meeting up with a friend) I will schedule it and put it in my calendar.
- For everything else, I’ll typically write this out as a list of “things I could possibly do this weekend”. It’s a small language tweak but framing it in this way helps this list to not feel like obligations or “shoulds” but rather inspiration that I can turn to. I personally like to have this list physically available for inspiration, but you can leave it in digital form if you prefer.
- Throughout the weekend, when I am brainstorming the next thing I want to do, I reference the list. Having these ideas written out already helps me from getting stuck in decision overwhelm.
- I usually end up doing about 80% of the items on the list. I feel great about that! It’s not about doing absolutely everything, but about making progress on things. If there is one area that I notice I am not doing week after week, that is good feedback for me to reflect on. Do I really need to do that thing? If no, I should take it off my list. If yes, I ask myself what is holding me back from taking action in that area?
The benefits when you plan your weekend:
I truly think that learning to plan your weekend is a key to making progress on big life goals AND in feeling more fulfilled on a regular basis. Some key benefits of this process include:
- Having this weekend checklist helps me to keep in mind my priorities and values and keeps me from getting stuck in a rut.
- It’s super fast! It makes it very quick for me to come up with ideas of activities. Because I’ve already broken my overall goals into categories, it simplifies things.
- There’s so much room within the checklist to be creative. For example, “quality time with my partner” could look like something very different each week. Sometimes that might mean going on a short trip, sometimes it’s watching a soccer game together, sometimes it’s having a serious conversation over burritos.
- It is easy to adapt as your priorities and focus in life change and evolve. For example, wedding planning is currently on my list. That will go away after I have my wedding and will open up room for a new area of focus.
A couple final thoughts for when you plan your weekend:
I’m using the expression “the perfect weekend” but a quick reminder that there is no such thing as perfection. Instead perhaps “the best weekend possible given circumstances that may not always be in my control” is a better goal. Either way, you can’t fail at this, and you’ll always be learning and improving how you plan things out. Also, not all of my weekends will look the same. If I have more obligations for some reason, some of these items will come off the list. This is no problem! The weekend checklist is there to guide you, not to control you.
I do not have kids or too many weekend work commitments, and both of those things lead to me having more leisure time than some people. You can adapt this weekend checklist to plan your weekend even with a very different lifestyle and set of commitments. It’s a question of priorities and what needs to be on your weekend checklist each week to make you feel you best or help you stay on track. Instead of every weekend, the checklist could be for every other week, or every month if that is more realistic and achievable. You can achieve quite a bit in a year, even with limited but consistent focused energy.
I’ve been using this fairly consistently for a while now and it really has helped me to make the most of my leisure time and effectively plan my weekend. Have you tried planning your weekend before? What would be on your weekly checklist?
Take Action! What to try this yourself? I’ve got you! Click Here for a workbook to identify your top value-centered activities. This will help you to create your checklist a get ready to plan your weekend.